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Heresy 159

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Welcome to Heresy 159, and the latest take on the Song of Ice and Fire.



So what’s it all about about - and why 158 previous incarnations over the last three years?



Basically, it is a free-flowing discussion, or rather a whole series of discussions and arguments, very largely but not exclusively concerned with the Wall, the Heart of Darkness which lies beyond it, the white walkers and the possible Stark connection to both – or in short, to Winter. Heresy is not on the other hand a particular theory far less a belief or set of beliefs, formulated, proclaimed and fiercely defended, but rather cheerful application of chaos theory which sometimes moves in unexpected directions.



The strength and the beauty and ultimately the value of Heresy comes from this very diversity. This is a thread where ideas can be discussed – and argued - freely and because it’s a strong thread it can support discussion and argument that might simply vanish in the maelstrom of the general forum, because above all it is about an exchange of ideas and sometimes too a remarkably well informed exchange drawing upon an astonishing broad base of literature ranging through Joseph Conrad, Susannah Clarke, CS Lewis, and so many others all to the way to the Táin Bó Cúailnge and the Mabinogion; it’s about history [and 1189] mythology, archaeology, ringworks and chambered tombs and even, the Gods save us, heroic geology.



GRRM’s original synopsis from 1993, transcribed below emphasises that he is taking the story through five related story arcs, not one. The story has obviously changed and moved in a number of interesting directions since then but above all it’s clear that it does not revolve around the question of Jon Snow’s mother, far less depend upon it for its conclusion, but rather that particular mystery is just one plot device among many in an altogether much larger and much richer story.



If new to Heresy you may also want to refer to to Wolfmaid's essential guide to Heresy: http://asoiaf.wester...uide-to-heresy/, which provides annotated links to all the previous editions of Heresy, latterly identified by topic.



Don’t be intimidated by the size and scope of Heresy, or by some of the ideas we’ve discussed over the years. We’re very good at talking in circles and we don’t mind going over old ground again, especially with a fresh pair of eyes, so just ask, but be patient and observe the local house rules that the debate be conducted by reference to the text, with respect for the ideas of others, and above all with great good humour.



Beyond that, read on.



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And now the slightly spoilerish full text of GRRM's1993 letter to his agent, Ralph Vicinanza. Things have obviously changed a bit since then but If you don’t want to know, don’t read on:



October 1993



Dear Ralph,



Here are the first thirteen chapters (170 pages) of the high fantasy novel I promised you, which I'm calling A Game of Thrones. When completed, this will be the first volume in what I see as an epic trilogy with the overall title, A Song of Ice and Fire.



As you know, I don't outline my novels. I find that if I know exactly where a book is going, I lose all interest in writing it. I do, however, have some strong notions as to the overall structure of the story I'm telling, and the eventual fate of many of the principle [sic] characters in the drama.



Roughly speaking, there are three major conflicts set in motion in the chapters enclosed. These will form the major plot threads of the trilogy, intertwining with each other in what should be a complex but exciting (I hope) narrative tapestry. Each of the conflicts presents a major threat to the peace of my imaginary realm, the Seven Kingdoms, and to the lives of the principal characters.



The first threat grows from the enmity between the great houses of Lannister and Stark as it plays out in a cycle of plot, counterplot, ambition, murder, and revenge, with the iron throne of the Seven Kingdoms as the ultimate prize. This will form the backbone of the first volume of the trilogy, A Game of Thrones.



While the lion of Lannister and the direwolf of Stark snarl and scrap, however, a second and greater threat takes shape across the narrow sea, where the Dothraki horselords mass their barbarians hordes for a great invasion of the Seven Kingdoms, led by the fierce and beautiful Daenerys Stormborn, the last of the Targaryen dragonlords. The Dothraki invasion will be the central story of my second volume,A Dance with Dragons.



The greatest danger of all, however, comes from the north, from the icy wastes beyond the Wall, where half-forgotten demons out of legend, the inhuman others, raise cold legions of the undead and the neverborn and prepare to ride down on the winds of winter to extinguish everything that we would call "life." The only thing that stands between the Seven Kingdoms and and endless night is the Wall, and a handful of men in black called the Night's Watch. Their story will be the heart of my third volume, The Winds of Winter. The final battle will also draw together characters and plot threads left from the first two books and resolve all in one huge climax.



The thirteen chapters on hand should give you a notion as to my narrative strategy. All three books will feature a complex mosaic of intercutting points-of-view among various of my large and diverse cast of players. The cast will not always remains the same. Old characters will die, and new ones will be introduced. Some of the fatalities will include sympathetic viewpoint characters. I want the reader to feel that no one is ever completely safe, not even the characters who seem to be the heroes. The suspense always ratchets up a notch when you know that any character can die at any time.



Five central characters will make it through all three volumes, however, growing from children to adults and changing the world and themselves in the process. In a sense, my trilogy is almost a generational saga, telling the life stories of these five characters, three men and two women. The five key players are Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, and three of the children of Winterfell, Arya, Bran, and the bastard Jon Snow. All of them are introduced at some length in the chapters you have to hand.



This is going to be (I hope) quite an epic. Epic in its scale, epic in its action, and epic in its length. I see all three volumes as big books, running about 700 to 800 manuscript pages, so things are just barely getting underway in the thirteen chapters I've sent you.



I have quite a clear notion of how the story is going to unfold in the first volume, A Game of Thrones. Things will get a lot worse for the poor Starks before they get better, I'm afraid. Lord Eddard Stark and his wife Catelyn Tully are both doomed, and will perish at the hands of their enemies. Ned will discover what happened to his friend Jon Arryn, but before he can act on his knowledge, King Robert will have an unfortunate accident, and the throne will pass to his sullen and brutal son Joffrey, still a minor. Joffrey will not be sympathetic and Ned will be accused of treason, but before he is taken he will help his wife and his daughter escape back to Winterfell.



Each of the contending families will learn it has a member of dubious loyalty in its midst. Sansa Stark, wed to Joffrey Baratheon, will bear him a son, the heir to the throne, and when the crunch comes she will choose her husband and child over her parents and siblings, a choice she will later bitterly rue. Tyrion Lannister, meanwhile, befriend both Sansa and her sister Arya, while growing more and more disenchanted with his own family.



Young Bran will come out of his coma, after a strange prophetic dream, only to discover that he will never walk again. He will turn to magic, at first in the hope of restoring his legs, but later for its own sake. When his father Eddard Stark is executed, Bran will see the shape of doom descending on all of them, but nothing he can say will stop his brother Robb from calling the banners in rebellion. All the north will be inflamed by war. Robb will win several splendid victories, and maim Joffrey Baratheon on the battlefield, but in the end he will not be able to stand against Jaime and Tyrion Lannister and their allies. Robb Stark will die in battle, and Tyrion Lannister will besiege and burn Winterfell.



Jon Snow, the bastard, will remain in the far north. He will mature into a ranger of great daring, and ultimately will succeed his uncle as the commander of the Night's Watch. When Winterfell burns, Catelyn Stark will be forced to flee north with her son Bran and her daughter Arya. Hounded by Lannister riders, they will seek refuge at the Wall, but the men of the Night's Watch give up their families when they take the black, and Jon and Benjen will not be able to help, to Jon's anguish. It will lead to a bitter estrangement between Jon and Bran. Arya will be more forgiving... until she realizes, with terror, that she has fallen in love with Jon, who is not only her half-brother but a man of the Night's Watch, sworn to celibacy. Their passion will continue to torment Jon and Arya throughout the trilogy, until the secret of Jon's true parentage is finally revealed in the last book.



Abandoned by the Night's Watch, Catelyn and her children will find their only hope of safety lies even further north, beyond the Wall, where they fall into the hands of Mance Rayder, the King-beyond-the-Wall, and get a dreadful glimpse of the inhuman others as they attack the wildling encampment. Bran's magic, Arya's sword Needle, and the savagery of their direwolves will help them survive, but their mother Catelyn will die at the hands of the others.



Over across the narrow sea, Daenerys Targaryen will discover that her new husband, the Dothraki Khal Drogo, has little interest in invading the Seven Kingdoms, much to her brother's frustration. When Viserys presses his claims past the point of tact or wisdom, Khal Drogo will finally grow annoyed and kill him out of hand, eliminating the Targaryen pretender and leaving Daenerys as the last of her line. Daenerys will bide her time, but she will not forget. When the moment is right, she will kill her husband to avenge her brother, and then flee with a trusted friend into the wilderness beyond Vaes Dothrak. There, hunted by Dothraki bloodriders [?] of her life, she stumbles on a cache of dragon's eggs [?] of a young dragon will give Daenerys the power to bend the Dothraki to her will. Then she begins to plan for her invasion of the Seven Kingdoms.



Tyrion Lannister will continue to travel, to plot, and to play the game of thrones, finally removing his nephew Joffrey in disgust at the boy king's brutality. Jaime Lannister will follow Joffrey on the throne of the Seven Kingdoms, by the simple expedient of killing everyone ahead of him in the line of succession and blaming his brother Tyrion for the murders. Exiled, Tyrion will change sides, making common cause with surviving Starks to bring his brother down, and falling helplessly in love with Arya Stark while he's at it. His passion is, alas, unreciprocated, but no less intense for that, and it will lead to a deadly rivalry between Tyrion and Snow.



[7 Lines Redacted]



But that's the second book...



I hope you'll find some editors who are as excited about all of this as I am. Feel free to share this letter with anyone who wants to know how the story will go.



All best,


George R.R. Martin





What’s in that redacted passage we don’t know but here’s what appears to be the equally spoilerish original synopsis/publisher’s blurb for Winds of Winter; not the forthcoming one, alas, but one apparently dating back to when it was still to be the third volume of the trilogy and following directly on in content and style from the first synopsis set out above:




Continuing the most imaginative and ambitious epic fantasy since The Lord of the Rings Winter has come at last and no man can say whether it will ever go again. The Wall is broken, the cold dead legions are coming south, and the people of the Seven Kingdoms turn to their queen to protect them. But Daenerys Targaryen is learning what Robert Baratheon learned before her; that it is one thing to win a throne and quite another to sit on one. Before she can hope to defeat the Others, Dany knows she must unite the broken realm behind her. Wolf and lion must hunt together, maester and greenseer work as one, all the blood feuds must be put aside, the bitter rivals and sworn enemies join hands. The Winds of Winter tells the story of Dany’s fight to save her new-won kingdom, of two desperate journeys beyond the known world in to the very hearts of ice and fire, and of the final climactic battle at Winterfell, with life itself in the balance.

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And as to the ongoing discussion, there is of course an "historical record" other than Old Nan:



“The Others.” Sam licked his lips. “They are mentioned in the annals, though not as often as I would have thought. The annals I’ve found and looked at, that is…



“The Others come when it is cold, most of the tales agree. Or else it gets cold when they come. Sometimes they appear during snowstorms and melt away when the skies clear. They hide from the light of the sun and emerge by night… or else night falls when they emerge. Some stories speak of them riding the corpses of dead animals. Bears, direwolves, mammoths, horses, it makes no matter so long as the beast is dead. The one that killed Small Paul was riding a dead horse, so that part’s plainly true. Some accounts speak of giant ice spiders too. I don’t know what those are. Men who fall in battle against the Others must be burned, or else the dead will rise again as their thralls.”

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Wolfmaid asked last thread if we had a name for the 13th Lord Commander, Night's King. Just wanted to toss this quote out there again:



Some say he was a Bolton,” Old Nan would always end. “Some say a Magnar out of Skagos, some say Umber, Flint, or Norrey. Some would have you think he was a Woodfoot, from them who ruled Bear island before the ironmen came. He never was. He was a Stark, the brother of the man who brought him down.” She always pinched Bran on the nose then, he would never forget it. “He was a Stark of Winterfell, and who can say? Mayhaps his name was Brandon. Mayhaps he slept in this very bed in this very room.


[...]


Night’s King was only a man by light of day, Old Nan would always say, but the night was his to rule.



I outta add this to my signature line. Sums up my take on things pretty well. A First Man named Stark by light of day, during the Age of Heroes. Mayhaps his name was Brandon the Builder :cool4:


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Wolfmaid asked last thread if we had a name for the 13th Lord Commander, Night's King. Just wanted to toss this quote out there again:

Some say he was a Bolton,” Old Nan would always end. “Some say a Magnar out of Skagos, some say Umber, Flint, or Norrey. Some would have you think he was a Woodfoot, from them who ruled Bear island before the ironmen came. He never was. He was a Stark, the brother of the man who brought him down.” She always pinched Bran on the nose then, he would never forget it. “He was a Stark of Winterfell, and who can say? Mayhaps his name was Brandon. Mayhaps he slept in this very bed in this very room.

Yeah, we've talked through this one a few times, with strong doubts about the alliteration of the 13th Lord Commander ruling for 13 years, and for a while wondered if he was the King Sherrit who called down his curse on the Andals of old from the Nightfort. I'm tempted to suspect a Bolton, given their nature, but in story-telling terms given all the hints towards a Stark connection to Winter I'd say that a Stark would be the most satisfactory outcome in story-telling terms - whether he was a Brandon Stark, far less Bran the Builder is a different matter entirely.

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Wolfmaid asked last thread if we had a name for the 13th Lord Commander, Night's King. Just wanted to toss this quote out there again:

Some say he was a Bolton,” Old Nan would always end. “Some say a Magnar out of Skagos, some say Umber, Flint, or Norrey. Some would have you think he was a Woodfoot, from them who ruled Bear island before the ironmen came. He never was. He was a Stark, the brother of the man who brought him down.” She always pinched Bran on the nose then, he would never forget it. “He was a Stark of Winterfell, and who can say? Mayhaps his name was Brandon. Mayhaps he slept in this very bed in this very room.

[...]

Night’s King was only a man by light of day, Old Nan would always say, but the night was his to rule.

I outta add this to my signature line. Sums up my take on things pretty well. A First Man named Stark by light of day, during the Age of Heroes. Mayhaps his name was Brandon the Builder :cool4:

I think the bolded means "time is a wheel/history repeats itself" and that Bran and Jon will be on opposing sides in the end (not a new theory as far as I know).

But I do think there is something to our Bran possibly being several iterations of Brandon's in the past. Who knows if using the Weirwoods as a Tardis can enable skinchangers to warg historical figures? Bran's architectural excitement about Winterfell is strange, and I don't think it's mere exposition.

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Yeah. No worries. I know the BtB thing is a long shot. It makes sense to me, but I enjoy finding the overarching possibilities that might give us these various tales. Just tossed that quote out again to point out that Old Nan states quite clearly that he was a Stark.



The 13's raise my eyebrow as well. We've no reason to doubt he reigned 13 years though. Nor that he was the 13th Lord Commander. While it is a peculiar correlation, it makes sense with our other 13th man, the Last Hero.



While I'm not 100% on the Bran the Builder part, I'm pretty much there on Last Hero and Night's King being one and the same. They were both the 13th. And both delved into arcane magics in the long night. Seems a bit too neat to simply be coincidental.


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I think the bolded means "time is a wheel/history repeats itself" and that Bran and Jon will be on opposing sides in the end (not a new theory as far as I know).

Yes and no. I think, judging by the original synopsis above that Jon and Bran may well find themselves on different sides as Bran embraces the darkness but that the line about Wolf and lion must hunt together, maester and greenseer work as one, all the blood feuds must be put aside, the bitter rivals and sworn enemies join hands suggests that Bran's redemption arc will end with them both on the same side.

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Yes and no. I think, judging by the original synopsis above that Jon and Bran may well find themselves on different sides as Bran embraces the darkness but that the line about Wolf and lion must hunt together, maester and greenseer work as one, all the blood feuds must be put aside, the bitter rivals and sworn enemies join hands suggests that Bran's redemption arc will end with them both on the same side.

If Bran is turning to the dark side (they have cookies), then a future redemption arc for him may be the case. Jon may reawaken as something far darker, and this is even confirmed by GRRM. What is clear from the letter is that he intended Jon and Bran to be bitter enemies at a point in time.

Speaking of lion... the lions of Lannister are conspicuously absent from the events at and beyond the Wall, save a social visit from Tyrion. Yet I think Tyrion is destined to return, and I suspect Jaime will play a huge part in the penultimate Battle.

The Lannisters are also conspicuously absent from the events directly preceding Robert's Rebellion. Whether they were simply not involved in the Lyanna mystery or GRRM has buried the clues, I don't know. I know things have changed since the letter, but I can't imagine GRRM did not have his Stark/Lannister conflict central in his thoughts when plotting.

Jaime's redemption arc is much more clear. Bran needs to hit bottom before he gets the chance to redeem himself, and we'll have to see what old Turtle has in store of Jon.

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Saw a thread in General regarding 'end game' location and found one link to reddit, which basically cites FFC synopsis (apparently from Amazon UK) here: http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showthread.php?267-The-Feast-for-Crows-synopsis . Interesting enough, it talks about culmination in Starfall (or Starfell, as per OP). If that was really a planned synopsis, I'd say some of theories of importance of Dawn and perhaps A + L = J get even more credit.


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If Bran is turning to the dark side (they have cookies), then a future redemption arc for him may be the case. Jon may reawaken as something far darker, and this is even confirmed by GRRM. What is clear from the letter is that he intended Jon and Bran to be bitter enemies at a point in time.

Speaking of lion... the lions of Lannister are conspicuously absent from the events at and beyond the Wall, save a social visit from Tyrion. Yet I think Tyrion is destined to return, and I suspect Jaime will play a huge part in the penultimate Battle.

The Lannisters are also conspicuously absent from the events directly preceding Robert's Rebellion. Whether they were simply not involved in the Lyanna mystery or GRRM has buried the clues, I don't know. I know things have changed since the letter, but I can't imagine GRRM did not have his Stark/Lannister conflict central in his thoughts when plotting.

Jaime's redemption arc is much more clear. Bran needs to hit bottom before he gets the chance to redeem himself, and we'll have to see what old Turtle has in store of Jon.

I agree, in the original synopsis the enmity between the Lannisters and the Starks is central to the Game of Thrones but we never learn why although its clear it predates Bran's first flying lesson. I'm very much inclined to wonder whether this, rather than the theory that Lord Eddard is "hiding" Jon from the king, is the real reason for the self-imposed exile.

The first threat grows from the enmity between the great houses of Lannister and Stark as it plays out in a cycle of plot, counterplot, ambition, murder, and revenge, with the iron throne of the Seven Kingdoms as the ultimate prize.

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I agree, in the original synopsis the enmity between the Lannisters and the Starks is central to the Game of Thrones but we never learn why although its clear it predates Bran's first flying lesson. I'm very much inclined to wonder whether this, rather than the theory that Lord Eddard is "hiding" Jon from the king, is the real reason for the self-imposed exile.

The first threat grows from the enmity between the great houses of Lannister and Stark as it plays out in a cycle of plot, counterplot, ambition, murder, and revenge, with the iron throne of the Seven Kingdoms as the ultimate prize.

The story of Lann the Clever does have some Bael the Bard elements. Sneaking in and impregnating the daughters and all that, or infiltrating the family through trickery. Also some strange animal-control clues in the other versions of his story. Rats, mice, lions. We often forget the FM/Garth Greenhands blood in Lann the Clever.

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Saw a thread in General regarding 'end game' location and found one link to reddit, which basically cites FFC synopsis (apparently from Amazon UK) here: http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showthread.php?267-The-Feast-for-Crows-synopsis . Interesting enough, it talks about culmination in Starfall (or Starfell, as per OP). If that was really a planned synopsis, I'd say some of theories of importance of Dawn and perhaps A + L = J get even more credit.

Oh very nice catch, and here it is going all the way back to 2002:

Continuing the most ambitious and imaginative epic fantasy since The Lord of the Rings The action in Book Four of A Song of Ice and Fire begins the day after the end of A STORM OF SWORDS. While the remaining northern lords war endlessly with each other and the ironmen of the isles attack the Dreadfort, Sansa becomes a skilled player in the game of thrones with Littlefinger as her mentor, Arya a skilled assassin, and Bran a magician and shapeshifter of great power. All seek to gain revenge for the death of their parents and Robb Stark, whose head was cut off and replaced with the head of his direwolf. Valar morghulis. All men must die, and wolves, too. Danerys trains her growing dragons and learns from Barristan the secrets of her father, her brother Rhaegar, and other matters that will culminate at Starfall. And Jon Snow is the nine-hundredth-and-ninety-eighth lord commander of the Night's Watch. The Wall is his. The night is dark, and he has King Stannis to face. The cold wind is rising, and still there are inhuman powers gathering in the north. "

Essentially this seems to confirm that ADwD is largely the second half of AFFC. The Starfall reference is intriguing though. At the very least it would appear to confirm that what went down in Dorne took place at Starfall rather than in a tower up in the Prince's Pass - and if it does turn out that Ser Arthur Dayne was a player and not just Rhaegar's stooge, remember that you read it here first.

:commie: :commie: :commie:

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I agree, in the original synopsis the enmity between the Lannisters and the Starks is central to the Game of Thrones but we never learn why although its clear it predates Bran's first flying lesson. I'm very much inclined to wonder whether this, rather than the theory that Lord Eddard is "hiding" Jon from the king, is the real reason for the self-imposed exile.

The first threat grows from the enmity between the great houses of Lannister and Stark as it plays out in a cycle of plot, counterplot, ambition, murder, and revenge, with the iron throne of the Seven Kingdoms as the ultimate prize.

I think the current enmity mainly dealt with Eddard's revulsion over the events of the sacking of King's Landing, Jaime killing Aerys, and Tywin's part in the deaths of Rhaegar's wife and children.

It is interesting to note that the Starks and Lannisters (at least at the start of the series) are the only two (eta major) Houses who have controlled their seats of power, Winterfell and Casterly Rock respectively, since the Age of Heroes.

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I think the current enmity mainly dealt with Eddard's revulsion over the events of the sacking of King's Landing, Jaime killing Aerys, and Tywin's part in the deaths of Rhaegar's wife and children.

It is interesting to note that the Starks and Lannisters (at least at the start of the series) are the only two (eta major) Houses who have controlled their seats of power, Winterfell and Casterly Rock respectively, since the Age of Heroes.

At that early date GRRM was more focused on the Wars of the Roses, with Stark/Lannister = York/Lancaster.

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I think the current enmity mainly dealt with Eddard's revulsion over the events of the sacking of King's Landing, Jaime killing Aerys, and Tywin's part in the deaths of Rhaegar's wife and children.

It is interesting to note that the Starks and Lannisters (at least at the start of the series) are the only two (eta major) Houses who have controlled their seats of power, Winterfell and Casterly Rock respectively, since the Age of Heroes.

The revulsion may be present but the synopsis suggests something much deeper.

As to old houses, its interesting that the Daynes have retained their position for so long without rising or falling, almost as if they are biding their time for something.

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What is A+L=J? Aerys + Lyanna= Jon? Or Ashara + someone = Jon? Or something else?

@wolfmaiden: this was kind answered already, but I'm pretty sure the 13th LC's name was erased from records so it would be forgotten.

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What is A+L=J? Aerys + Lyanna= Jon? Or Ashara + someone = Jon? Or something else?

@wolfmaiden: this was kind answered already, but I'm pretty sure the 13th LC's name was erased from records so it would be forgotten.

Arthur Dayne + Lyanna = Jon

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